Reese Witherspoon to Voice ‘Mockingbird’ Sequel Audiobook

As if the last year wasn’t busy enough for Academy Award-winning actress Reese Witherspoon (Wild, Gone Girl), she’s taking on another big…well…undertaking.

According to Entertainment Weekly, she’s voicing the audiobook version of Harper Lee’s new novel Go Set a Watchman, the long-awaited follow-up to her classic To Kill a Mockingbird. The novel will follow a grown-up Scout. And Reese Witherspoon couldn’t be more honored to deliver the story through her voice, as Andrea Towers explains:

Witherspoon told USA Today that, “as a Southerner, it is an honor and a privilege to give voice to the Southern characters who inspired by childhood love of reading, Scout and Atticus Finch.” The Oscar-winning star added that she is “eager for readers to be transported to a pivotal time in American history in the manner that only Lee’s gorgeous prose can deliver.”

Go Set a Watchman is due to be released in print and audiobook on July 14th.

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Dr. Seuss Museum in the Works

In case his books and the movies based on them didn’t do enough to immerse you in his world, there will soon be a Dr. Seuss museum opening.

According to Entertainment Weekly, The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum will open in Springfield, Massachusetts in June 2016. The museum honor Dr. Seuss — real name: Theodor Seuss Geisel — allowing visitors to experience “a series of environments that replicate scenes from [his] imagination and encounter life-sized three-dimensional characters and places from the books.”

Who’s making plans to go …(I mean besides me)?

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Paula Deen Cooks Up a New Book Deal

Remember that time Paula Deen said something naughty? Apparently time heals wounds.

According to Entertainment Weekly, Paula Deen got a new book deal, two years after Random House dropped her following her racial SNAFU. Now Deen has an agreement with Hachette Book Group. The agreements gives Hachette permission to distribute around the world Deen’s books that were released under the Paula Deen Ventures label.

Deen’s first book with Hachette, Paula Deen Cuts the Fat, is expected to be released in September. Several other books are already planned for later releases.

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Review: Unorthodox

Recap: As a young girl in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the life of an Orthodox Hasidic Jew is the only one Deborah Feldman knows. She’s raised by her Bubby and Zeidy (Yiddish for Grandma and Grandpa) since mother left the Orthodox lifestyle — and was thereafter banished from it — and since her father was considered incapable of raising a child alone. As an Orthodox child, Debra dresses in long skirts, is mostly kept separate from boys and eats strictly kosher food. But she also spends time sneaking classic novels written by American authors into her bedroom and reading them, practicing English more than Hebrew and Yiddish, and dreaming of a life away from the Orthodox.

It’s all this, a molestation and the pride of telling a good lie that set her on a path away from Orthodox Judaism. As she gets older and prepares for marriage at the ripe, young age of 17, she finally learns about her body — all of its “holes” and all of its abilities. She comes to have sexual problems — both physically and emotionally — with her equally-as-young husband. Eventually they consummate their marriage and produce a son. I say “produce” because that’s very much what it feels like to Debra — a person that is produced, not one who is born out of love.

Her desire to leave remains. But the question is how. And if Debra does manage to get out unscathed, what will it mean for her son? (Orthodox children usually remain within the Orthodox sect, even if their mothers or fathers leave.) It seems an impossible feat, but for Debra, so does staying Orthodox.

AnalysisUnorthodox is eye-opening. It’s hard to believe these ancient beliefs remain and are carried out in this day and age and modern world. Learning about the world of Orthodox Judaism is fascinating, and with her descriptions, it’s darker and more limiting than one might think. The fact that she made it out unscathed and with her young son in tow is incredible.

But here’s the issue — the one glaring issue — with the book. As much as Feldman explains why she no longer wants to lead an Orthodox life is as little detailed as she gets about how she went about doing it. She makes it clear that a few friends helped, and what she did to get her first lump sum of cash. But where did she live when her family disowned her? How did she make enough money to land an apartment in New York City on her own? What kind of struggle did she endure when she finally got out? The story was amazing until the end, when so much was left out. Maybe it was too personal for her to write about, but for me, that struggle was what I most looked forward to, and I never quite got it.

Get Unorthodox in paperback for $12.02.

Or on your Kindle for $10.99.

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Anna Kendrick to Pen Book of Essays

Because Lena Dunham wasn’t enough, another twenty-something actress is setting out on becoming an essayist.

According to Page Six, this time it’s Anna Kendrick. The actress/singer is now adding author to her resume, with plans to write a book of autobiographical essays, due out in Fall 2016. Touchstone, an imprint of Simon & Schuster is publishing the book, which is said to include funny and embarrassing stories about the star.

The book does not yet have a title.

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Review: Whip Smart: Lola Montez Starts a Revolution

Recap: Lola Montez is on the run, and where to next? It’s the mid-1800s, and Montez is not one to settle. So when she is dared to seduce a king, she moves to Bavaria to try her hand at seducing King Ludwig I. That’s where she becomes one of the most famous mistresses in European history. Does this sound familiar? It might. That’s because it’s all based on the true story of the real Lola Montez, an actress, dancer, and mistress from the 19th century.

It’s her relationship with King Ludwig that results in backlash from the public. But Lola and her crazy self is too oblivious to notice the continental shakeup she’s had a part in starting. As she hooks the king, she continues to have sexual relationships with other men. Meanwhile, her daughter is cared for by her own mother — the fact that she’s the mother is kept secret from the both the little girl and anyone else Lola knows. Right decision or not, it’s enough to give Lola a reason to keep going.

Analysis: It’s hard for me to put into words what I didn’t like about this book. All I can say is there was a lot. It was twisty, and with no knowledge of the real Lola Montez, I didn’t know where the story was going. Her character comes off not so much cosmopolitan as she is casually slutty. The book is obviously meant to be comedic; we’re meant to laugh at her obliviousness and her ability to command attention and power without necessarily meaning to. But instead, I found it annoying. She came off as silly and dumb to me, making it difficult for me to connect with her and her story. The most interesting part was the relationship she had with her daughter — the daughter who doesn’t know Lola is actually her mom. But the reader only gets small glimpses into that relationship.

The book is also hard to read as a stand alone. It’s the third book in a series about Lola Montez, the Whip Smart series, and though it was teased as a novel I’d be able to read without having read the previous novels, it didn’t feel that way. It referenced things that happened in the earlier books fairly often. Eventually I was able to figure it out, but it made it hard for me to sympathize with Lola and what she had already been through.

MVP: Lola Montez. Despite how many issues I had with the book, she was nothing if not a spicy character with lots of personality! I couldn’t help but laugh at her casual looseness and aloofness.

Get Whip Smart: Lola Montez Starts a Revolution in paperback for $14.60.

Or get it on your Kindle for $5.39.

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J.K. Rowling/”Robert Galbraith” To Release New Detective Novel in Series

Another detective novel from bestselling author Robert Galbraith (reminder: the pen name for bestselling Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling) is on the way.

According to Entertainment Weekly, the next Cormoran Strike novel is due to be released this fall. The novel is the third in the detective series, following The Cuckoo’s Calling in 2013 and The Silkworm in 2014. The third novel is titled Career of Evil, and an official date has not yet been released.

Rowling planned to release a total of seven novels in the detective series, similar to the Harry Potter series. As previously reported, the books are also being adapted into a TV series.

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